Creator of Heaven and Earth

 

III.

We have spoken of the title of the first Person, and of His attributes; now we come to speak of His effect, namely, the Creation. But before we come to it, we are to answer a certain objection which may be made. At the first it must seem strange to some that the work of Creation is ascribed to the first Person in Trinity, the Father; whereas in the Scripture it is common to them all three equally.

 

And first, that the Father is Creator, it was never doubted. As for the second Person, the Son, that He is Creator it is evident (John 1:3), All things were made by Him, that is, by the Son, who is the substantial Word of the Father, and without Him was made nothing that was made. And again it is said (Heb. 1:2) that God by His Son made the world. As for the Holy Ghost, the work of Creation is also ascribed unto Him. And therefore Moses saith (Gen. 1:2), The Spirit moved upon the waters. And Job saith (Job 26:13), His Spirit hath garnished the heavens. How then is this peculiar to the Father, being common to all three Persons in Trinity? I answer, The actions of God are twofold: either inward or outward.

 

The inward actions are those which one Person doth exercise toward another; as the Father doth beget the Son, and this is an inward action peculiar to the Father. And all inward actions are proper to the Persons from whom they are. So the Son doth receive the Godhead by communication from the Father; and the Holy Ghost from them both; and these are inward actions peculiar to these Persons. So likewise, for the Father to send His Son, it is an inward action proper to the Father, and cannot be communicated to the Holy Ghost. And the Son to be sent by the Father only, is a thing proper to the Son, and not common to the Father, or to the Holy Ghost.

 

Now outward actions are the actions of the Persons in the Trinity to the creatures, as the work of Creation, the work of preservation, and of redemption. These and all such actions are common to all the three Persons. The Father createth, the Son createth, and the Holy Ghost createth. And so we may say of the works of government, and of redemption, and of all outward actions of the Persons to the creatures.

 

But some again may say, How then can the work of Creation, being an outward action of God to the creature, be peculiar to the first Person, the Father? I Answer: the work of Creation is not so proper to the first Person as that it cannot also be common to the rest; for all the three Persons jointly created all things of nothing; only they are distinguished in the manner of creating. For the Father is the cause that beginneth the work, the Son puts it in execution, the Holy Ghost is the finisher of it. And again, the Father createth by the Son (Col. 1:16; Rom. 11:36) and by the Holy Ghost; the Son createth by the Holy Ghost and from the Father; the Holy Ghost createth not by the Father nor by the Son, but from the Father and the Son. And this is the reason why the work of Creation is ascribed here unto the Father, because He alone createth after a peculiar manner, namely, by the Son and by the Holy Ghost. But the Son and the Holy Ghost create not by the Father, but from Him.

 

Thus, having answered the objection, we come to speak of the Creation itself. In handling whereof, we must withal treat of the counsel of God as being the cause thereof, and of the government of the creatures as being a work of God whereby he continues the Creation. And the order which I will observe is:

 

1. First to speak of the counsel of God

2. Secondly of the execution of His counsel, which hath two special branches:

2a. The first, the creation,

2b. The second, the preservation or government of things created.

 

 

 

1.

The counsel of God is His eternal and unchangeable decree whereby He hath ordained all things either past, present or to come, for His own glory. First, I call it a decree because God hath in it set down with Himself as appointed sovereign Lord, what shall be, what shall not be. I add further that all things whatsoever come under the compass of this decree, as Paul saith (Eph. 1:11), He worketh all things according to the counsel of His will. And our Saviour Christ saith (Matt. 10:29) that a sparrow cannot fall on the ground without the heavenly Father. Yea, further, He tells His disciples (v.30) that the very hairs of their head are numbered, meaning that they are known and set down in the counsel of God. And considering that God is King over heaven and earth; and that most wise, yea wisdom itself; and most mighty, yea might and power itself; it must needs be that He hath determined how all things shall come to pass in His kingdom, with all their circumstances, time, place, causes etc. in such particular manner that the very least thing that may be, is not left unappointed and undisposed.

 

The counsel of God hath two properties: eternity and unchangeableness. It is eternal because it was set down by God from everlasting before all times, as Paul saith (Eph. 1:4), God hath chosen the Ephesians to salvation before all worlds. And he saith of himself (2 Tim. 1:9) that he was called according to the purpose of God, which was before all worlds. Again, the same counsel once set down, is unchangeable. God saith (Mal. 3:6), I am Jehovah, and I change not. With God (saith St James (Jam. 1:17)) there is no variableness nor shadow of change. Now such as God is, such is His decree or counsel. And being unchangeable, His counsels also are unchangeable.

 

GodŐs counsel hath two parts: His foreknowledge and His will or pleasure. His foreknowledge, whereby He did foresee all things which were to come. His will, whereby in general manner He wills and ordains whatsoever is to come to pass; and therefore such things as God altogether nilleth, cannot come to pass. Now these two parts of the counsel of God must be joined together, and not severed. Will without knowledge is impotent, and foreknowledge without will is idle. And therefore such as hold that God doth barely foresee sundry things to come, no manner of way either willing or decreeing the issue and event of them, do bring in little better than atheism. For if we say that anything comes to pass either against GodŐs will, or God not knowing of it or not regarding it, we shall make Him either impotent or careless, and raise the very foundation of GodŐs providence.

 

And this decree of God must be conceived of us as the most general cause of all things subsisting; being first in order, having all other causes under it, and most principal, overruling all, overruled by none.

 

 

Thus we see what is to be held touching GodŐs counsel. Now for the better clearing of the truth, three objections of some difficulty are to be answered:

 

(1) First may some man say, If God decree and ordain all things whatsoever, then He decreeth and ordaineth sin. But God decrees not sin inasmuch as it is against His will. And therefore He decrees not all things. Answer: We use not to say that God doth simply will or decree sin, but only in part, adding withal these caveats:

 

(i) That God willeth and decreeth sin, not properly as it is sin, but as it hath in it sundry regards and respects of goodness, so far forth as it is a punishment, or chastisement, or trial, or action, or hath an existence in nature.

 

(ii) God can so use evil instruments that the work done by them being a sin, shall nevertheless in Him be a good work; because He knows how to use evil instruments well. If it be further alleged that God willeth no wickedness (Psa. 5:5), we must know that GodŐs will is twofold: general and special.

 

(a) General, whereby God willeth and decreeth that a thing shall be; and by this kind of will He may be said to will sin; and that without sin. For though He decreeth it thus, yet doth He not instil wickedness into the heart of any sinner, and His decree is only for a most excellent end. For in regard of God which decreeth it, it is good that there should be evil. To this purpose, Augustine saith excellently, By an unspeakable manner it comes to pass, that that which is against GodŐs will, is not without His will.

 

(b) Now the special will of God is that whereby He willeth anything in such manner that he approveth it and delighteth in it. And thus indeed we cannot say without blasphemy that God willeth sin.

 

Thus then we see in what manner, and how far forth God may be said to decree sin, that is, to will and appoint the permission of it.

 

(2) Again, it may be objected thus: If all things be determined by the unchangeable decree of God, then all things come to pass by an unchangeable necessity; and men in their actions have no free will at all, nor liberty in doing anything. Answer: This must be learned as a certain rule: that the necessary decree of God doth not abolish the nature of the second causes, and impose necessity upon the will of man, but only order and incline it without any constraint, to one part. As, for example, when a people is gathered together to hear GodŐs Word, there is none of them but they know that they come thither by GodŐs providence (and in that respect, necessarily), yet before they come, they had all freedom and liberty in themselves to come or not to come. And GodŐs eternal counsel did not hinder the liberty of our wills in coming or not coming, nor take away the same; but only incline and turn them to the choice of one part. Another example hereof we may have in our Saviour Christ, whose state and condition of body, if we regard, He might have lived longer. Yet by the eternal counsel of God, He must die at that place, at that time, at that hour, where and when He died. Whereby we may see that GodŐs counsel doth not hinder the will of man; but only order and dispose it. Which answer being well marked, we shall see these two will stand together: the necessary and unchangeable counsel of God, and the free will of man. And again, that the same action may be both necessary and contingent: necessary in regard of the highest cause, the counsel of God; not necessary but contingent in respect of the second causes, as, among the rest, the will of man.

 

(3) Thirdly, some will yet object against this doctrine, that if all things come to pass according to GodŐs unchangeable decree, then what needs the use of any means? What needs the preaching of the Word? And receiving of the sacraments? What needs any laws, princes, magistrates or government? What needs walking in menŐs ordinary callings? All is to no end; for let men play, or work, sleep or wake; all is one, for GodŐs eternal counsel must needs come to pass. Therefore it may seem in vain for men to busy themselves about such things. Answer: But we must know that as God hath appointed all things to come to pass in His eternal and unchangeable counsel; so in the same decree, He hath together set down the means and ways whereby He will have the same things brought to pass; for these two must never be severed, the thing to be done, and the means whereby it is done. We may read in the Acts in PaulŐs dangerous voyage towards Rome (Acts 27:23,24), an angel of the Lord told Paul that God had given him all that sailed with him in the ship. Now the soldiers and mariners hearing this, might reason thus with themselves: Seeing God hath decreed to save us all, we may do what we will, there is no danger, for we shall all come to land alive. But mark what Paul saith (v.31), Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be safe; where we see that as it was the eternal counsel of God to save Paul and all that were with him, so He decreed to save all by this particular means of their abode in the ship. King Hezekiah (2 Kin. 20:6,7) was restored to his health, and received from God a promise that he should have fifteen years added to his days, and the promise was confirmed by a sign. Now what doeth he? Cast off all means? No; but as he was prescribed, so he applieth a bunch of dry figs to his sore, and useth still his ordinary diet. Therefore it is gross ignorance and madness in men, to reason so against GodŐs decree: God in His unchangeable counsel hath decreed and set down all things how they shall be; therefore I will use no means, but live as I list. Nay, rather we must say the contrary: because God hath decreed this thing or that to be done; therefore I will use the means which God hath appointed to bring the same to pass.

 

 

 

2a.

Now followeth the Creation, which is nothing else but a work of the blessed Trinity, forming and framing His creatures which were not before, and that of nothing.

 

The points to be known concerning the Creation are many:

 

(1) The first, is the thing by which God did begin and finish the Creation. And we must understand that at the first God made all things without any instrument or means, and not as men do which bring to pass their business by servants and helps, but only by His Word and commandment; as the Psalmist saith (Psa. 148:5), He commanded, and all things were made. In the beginning, God said (Gen. 1:3), Let there be light, and there was light; and by the same means was the creation of every creature following. The very power of the Word and commandment of God was such, as by it that thing was made and had a being, which before was not. It may be demanded, what Word this was by which God is said to make all things? Answer: The Word of God in Scripture is taken three ways: for the substantial Word, for the founding, or written Word, and for the operative, or powerful Word. The substantial Word is the Second Person begotten of the substance of the Father. Now howsoever it be true that God the Father did create all things by His Word,  that is, by His Son; yet doth it not seem to be true that by these words ŇGod said, Let there beÉ this or thatÓ that the Son is meant. For that Word which God gave out in the Creation was in time, whereas the Son is the Word of the Father before all times. And again, it is a Word common to the three persons equally, whereas the Son is the Word of the Father only. Furthermore, it is not like that it was any sounding word standing of letters and syllables, and uttered to the creatures after the usual manner of men, that was the cause of them. It remains therefore that all things were made by the operative Word, which is nothing but the pleasure, will, and appointment of God; and is more powerful to bring a thing to pass than all the means in the world besides. For God willing of anything, is His effecting and doing of it. And this is proved by David when he saith (Ps. 33:9), He spake the Word, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created. Hence we must take out a special lesson, needful to be learned of every man. Look what power God used and shewed in making the creatures when they were not; the same power He doth, can and will shew forth in re-creating and redeeming sinful men by the precious blood of Christ. By His Word He created manŐs heart when it was not; and He can and will as easily create in us all new hearts specially when we use the good means appointed for that end. As, when Christ said to dead Lazarus (John 11:43), Lazarus, come forth, he arose and came forth of his grave, though bound hand and foot. So when the Lord speaks to our dead heart by His Word and Spirit, we shall rise forth of the graves of our sins and corruptions. In the Creation of the great world, God said, Let there be light, and presently darkness gave place. And the same He can do to the little world, that is, to man. We are by nature darkness, and let God but speak to our blind understandings, our ignorance shall depart, and we shall be enlightened with the knowledge of the true God and of His will. As Paul saith (2 Cor. 4:6), God that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, is He which hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

(2) Secondly, God made all creatures, without motion, labour or fatigue; for His very bidding of the work to be done, was the doing of it. And this thing no creature can do, but God only, though unto Adam labour was without pain before the fall.

 

(3) Thirdly, the matter and the first beginning of all creatures was nothing; that is, all things were made, when as there was nothing whereof they might be made, as Paul saith (Rom. 4:17), God calleth those things which be not, as though they were. And indeed in the first Creation, all things must be made either of the essence of God, or of nothing. But a creature cannot be made of the essence of God, for it hath no parts, it is not divisible. And therefore God made all things that were made out of Himself or His own essence. The conclusion then is that the framing of the creatures in the beginning, was not of any matter, but of nothing, because before the Creation, out of God there was nothing. This must teach us to humble ourselves. Many there be that stand upon their ancestors; but let them here look whence they came first, namely, as Abraham saith of himself (Gen. 18:27), of dust and ashes. And what was this dust and ashes made of? Surely of nothing. Wherefore every manŐs first beginning is of nothing. Well then, such men as are carried away with their pedigree and descent, if they look well unto it, they shall find small cause to boast or brag. And this consideration of our first beginning, must move us to true humiliation in ourselves.

 

(4) Fourthly, God in framing His creatures in the beginning made them good; yea, very good. Now the goodness of the creature is nothing else but the perfect estate of the creature, whereby it was conformable to the will and mind of the Creator allowing and approving of it, when He had made it. For a creature is not first good, and then approved of God; but because it is approved of God, thereof it is good. But wherein, will some say, stands this goodness of the creature? I answer, in three things:

 

(i) In the comeliness, beauty and glory of every work in his kind, both in form and constitution of the matter.

 

(ii) In the excellency of the virtue which God hath given to it; for as He hath appointed every creature for some especial end, so He hath fitted and furnished it with sufficient power and virtue to the accomplishing of the same end.

 

(iii) In the exceeding benefit and profitableness that came by them to man.

 

But since the fall of man, this goodness of the creature is partly corrupted and partly diminished. Therefore when we see any want, defect or deformity in any of them, we must have recourse back again to the apostasy of our first parents, and remember our fall in them, and say with a sorrowful heart, this comes to pass by reason of manŐs most wretched sin, which hath defiled heaven and earth, and drawn a curse not only upon himself, but upon the rest of the creatures for his sake; whereby their goodness is much defaced.

 

(5) Fifthly, the end of creation, is the glory of God, as Solomon saith (Prov. 16:4), God made all things for His own sake, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. And God propounds this principal end to Himself, not as though He wanted glory, and would purchase it unto Himself by the creation; for He is most glorious in Himself, and His honour and praise being infinite, can neither be increased nor decreased; but rather that He might communicate, and make manifest His glory to His creatures, and give them occasion to magnify the same. For the reasonable creatures of God, beholding His glory in the creation, are moved to testify and declare the same among men.

 

(6) The sixth shall be touching the time of the beginning of the world, which is between five thousand and six thousand years ago. For Moses hath set down exactly the computation of time from the making of the world to his own days; and the prophets after him have with diligence set down the continuance of the same to the very birth of Christ. But for the exact account of years, chronologers are not all of one mind. Some say there be 3929, from the creation to ChristŐs birth, as Belroaldus; some 3952, as Jerome and Bede; some 3960, as Luther, and lo, Lucidus; some 3963, as Melanchthon in his Chronicle, and Functius; some 3970, as Bullinger and Tremellius; some towards 4000, as Buntingus. Now from the birth of Christ to this day are 1592 years, and adding these together, the whole time amounteth. And God would have the very time of the beginning of the world to be revealed:

 

(i) First, that it might be known to the church when the Covenant of grace was first given by God to man, and when it was afterward renewed, and how Christ came in the fulness of time (Gal. 4:4).

 

(ii) Secondly, that we might know that the world was not made for the eternal and ever-living God, but for man.

 

(iii) Thirdly, that we might learn not to set our hearts on the world, and on the things therein, which have beginning and end, but seek for things eternal in heaven.

 

And before the time which I have named began, there was nothing beside God; the world itself, and all things else were uncreated. Some men used to object and say, What did God all that while before the world was? How did He employ Himself? What, was He idle? Answer: The Jews to which bad this question, made as bad an answer; for they say He was continually occupied in making many little worlds, which He continually destroyed as He made them, because none pleased Him till He made this. But we must rather say that some things are revealed which God did then, as that He decreed what should come to pass when the world was, and that the blessed Persons in Trinity did take eternal delight each in other. If any man will needs know more, let him hear what Moses saith (Deut. 29:29), Secret things belong to the Lord our God, but things revealed, to us and our children for ever. And let them mark what one eluding the question answered; namely, that God was making hell fire to burn all such curious persons as will needs know more of God than He hath revealed to them. For where God hath not a mouth to speak, there we must not have a care to hear. Therefore our duty is to let such curious questions pass.

 

(7) Seventhly, some may ask in what space of time did God make the world? Answer: God could have made the world and all things in it, in one moment; but He began and finished the whole work in six distinct days.

 

In the first day He made the matter of all things and the light.

 

In the second, the heavens.

 

In the third day, He brought the sea into His compass, and made the dry land appear, and caused it to bring forth herbs, plants and trees.

 

In the fourth day, He made the sun, the moon and the stars in heaven.

 

In the fifth day, He made the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the heaven, and every creeping thing.

 

In the sixth day, He made the beasts of the field, and all cattle, and in the end of the sixth day, He made man.

 

Thus in six distinct spaces of time, the Lord did make all things; and that especially for three causes:

 

(i) To teach men that they ought to have a distinct and serious consideration of every creature; for if God had made the world in a moment, some might have said, This work is so mystical, that no man can speak of it. But, for the preventing of this cavil, it was His pleasure to make the world and all things therein, in six days; and the seventh day, He commanded it to be sanctified by men, that they might distinctly and seriously meditate upon every dayŐs work of the Creation.

 

(ii) God made the world and everything therein, in six distinct days, to teach us what wonderful power and liberty He had over all His creatures; for He made the light when there was neither sun nor moon, nor stars, to shew that in giving light to the world, He is not bound to the sun, to any creature, or to any means; for the light was made the first day, but the sun, the moon and the stars were not created before the fourth day. Again, trees and plants were created the third day, but yet the sun, the moon and the stars, and rain, which nourish and make herbs, trees and plants to grow, were not created till after the third day; which shews plainly that God can make trees, plants and herbs to grow without the means of rain, and without the virtue and operation of the sun, the moon and the stars.

 

(iii) He made the world in six distinct days and framed all things in this order, to teach us His wonderful providence over all His creatures; for before man was created, He provided for him a dwelling place, and all things necessary for his perpetual preservation and perfect happiness and felicity. So also He created beasts and cattle; but not before He had made herbs, plants and grass, and all means whereby they are preserved. And if God had this care over man, when as yet he was not; much more will God have care over him now when he is, and hath a being in nature.

 

And thus much concerning the points of doctrine touching the creation.

 

 

The duties follow.

 

(1) And first, by the work of creation, we may discern the true Jehovah from all false gods and idols in the world. This, Isaiah maketh plain (Isa. 45:6,7), I am God, and there is none other God besides me. How is that produced? Thus: I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things. If a man ask thee how thou knowest the true God from all false gods, thou must answer, By the works of Creation; for He alone is the maker of heaven and earth, and all things in them. This property cannot agree to any creature, to any man, saint or angel; nay, not to all men and all angels. They cannot give being to a creature which before was nothing.

 

(2) Secondly, whereas God the Father is creator of all things, and hath given unto man reason, understanding and ability more than to other creatures; we are taught to consider and meditate on the work of GodŐs creation. This, the wise man teacheth us (Eccl. 7:13), saying, Consider the works of God. And indeed, it is a special duty of every man who professeth himself to be a member of GodŐs church, as he acknowledgeth God to be the Creator, so to look upon His workmanship, and view and consider all creatures. A skilful workman can have no greater disgrace, than when he hath done some famous thing, to have his friend pass by his work, and not so much as look upon it. If it be demanded for what end we must look upon the work of GodŐs Creation, I answer, that in it we may see and discern GodŐs power, wisdom, love, mercy and providence, and all His attributes, and in all things, His glory. This is a most necessary duty to be learned of every man. We think nothing too much or too good to bestow on vain shews and plays, idle sports and pastimes, which are the vanities of men, and we do most willingly behold them; in the mean season utterly neglecting and condemning the glorious work of GodŐs Creation. Well, the Lord hath appointed His Sabbath to be sanctified, not only by the public ministry of the Word, and by private prayers, but also by an especial consideration and meditation of GodŐs creatures, and therefore the duty of every man is this: distinctly and seriously to view and consider the creatures of God; and thereby take occasion to glorify His name, by ascribing unto Him the wisdom, glory, power and omnipotence that is due unto Him, and appears in the same.

 

(3) Thirdly, we must give God glory in all His creatures, because He is the Creator of them all. So in the Revelation, the four and twenty elders fall down before Him, and say (Rev. 4:11), Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; giving this reason, for thou hast created all things, and for thy willŐs sake they are and have been created. Read Psalms 147 and 148, both of which tend to this effect, that God must be praised because He is the Creator of all things, to whom all glory is due. We know that when men behold any curious work of a cunning and skilful craftsman, straightway they will leave the work, and enquire after him that made it, that they may praise his skill. The same is our duty in this case, when we come abroad and behold everywhere in all the creatures the admirable and unspeakable wisdom, goodness and power of God, then we must make haste from the creature, and go forward to the Creator, to praise and glorify Him. And herein must we shew ourselves to differ from brute beasts, in that by the use and view of GodŐs creatures, we do return due glory, praise and honour unto the Creator.

 

(4) Our fourth duty is set down by the prophet Amos, who moving the people to meet God by repentance, addeth a reason taken from the Creation (Amos 4:13). He that formeth the mountains and createth the winds, which declareth unto man what is His thought, which maketh the morning darkness etc., The Lord God of hosts is His name. The meaning of the prophet is this: God is a terrible judge, and we are as traitors and rebels against Him. Therefore the best way that we can take is this: He is coming to judgment, let us therefore meet Him, fall down before Him, and humble ourselves under His mighty hand. And the Holy Ghost by the prophet would move the people to meet God by serious repentance, by a reason framed thus: If God who is their judge, be able to create the winds, and to form the mountains, and to make the morning darkness, then He is also able to make an eternal judgment for their confusion. And therefore all such as be impenitent sinners, let them prepare themselves to turn unto Him; and surely if men had grace to lay this to their hearts, they would not live so long in their sins without repentance as they do; nay, rather they would prepare themselves to meet Him in the way before He come to judgment, because He is a Creator, and therefore able to bring infinite punishments upon them at His pleasure, and to bring them to nothing, as He made them of nothing. And let them know it whosoever they be that go forward in their sins, that God the Creator whensoever He will, can open hell to devour them; and that He can shew Himself as mighty in His judgments to manŐs destruction, as He was mighty in the beginning in giving us being when we were nothing. Wherefore notable is the practice of David, who inures himself to the fear of God (Psa. 139:14) by the consideration of His Creation, saying, I am fearfully and wonderfully made etc.

 

(5) Lastly, those that have been impenitent sinners though all their life past, must not only learn to repent for their sins, but also endeavour to perform obedience unto GodŐs Word. God is a Creator, and the thing created should in all respects be conformable to His will; for David saith (Psa. 119:73), Thine hands have fashioned me, and framed me; give me understanding therefore, that I may learn thy commandments. And good reason; for there is no man of any trade, but that he would fain have all that he maketh and deviseth, to be used; but yet so as the use thereof must be conformable to the will of the maker. For this cause, Moses, that faithful servant of God, saith (Deut. 32:6) that the people of Israel dealt wrongfully with the Lord. Why? For He hath created them, and proportioned them. He is their Father and He bought them. Yet they have dishonoured Him by corrupting themselves towards Him by their vice.

 

All creatures in heaven and earth do the will of the Creator, except man, and the devil and his angels; for the sun, the moon and the stars, they keep that course which God hath appointed them; but man, though he be bound to do the will of God because God is his Creator, yet he rebels against Him. The potter, if in tempering his clay, he cannot make and frame it according to his mind, at length he will dash it in pieces. So God, He createth man, not that he should do his own will, but GodŐs will; and therefore the Lord in His wrath will confound him eternally, whosoever he be that followeth the lusts of his own wicked heart, and will not be brought to be conformable to GodŐs will, but goes on in his rebellion without stay. For this cause it stands every man in hand to yield himself pliable to GodŐs will, and to endeavour to obey it by keeping a good conscience before God and all men, and by walking faithfully in his calling, lest the end be confusion. If a man have a trade and other men come into his shop, and use such tools and instruments as be there, to wrong ends, he will in no wise brook it, but take the abuse in great displeasure. Now the world is as it were an opened shop, in which God hath set forth unto His glory and majesty, and the creatures of all kinds to be instruments appointed for excellent uses, and specially man for the accomplishment of His will. And therefore when he rebels against the will of God, and by sin puts the creatures to wrong ends, he cannot but most grievously offend God.

 

And thus much of the duties.

 

 

Now in the third place follow the consolations unto GodŐs church and people.

 

(1) First, as St Peter saith (1 Pet. 4:19), God is a Creator, yea, a faithful Creator. The properties of faithful Creators are two:

 

(i) He will preserve His creature. No man is so tender over any work as he that made it, for he cannot abide to see it in any way abused. God therefore being a faithful Creator, tenderly loves all His creatures. So Job reasoneth with God (Job 10:3) that He will not cast him off, because he is the work of His hands.

 

(ii) God will bear with His creature, to see whether it will be brought to any good end and use, before He will destroy it. And to use the former comparison, the potter will turn and work the clay every way to make a vessel unto his mind; but if it frame no way, then will he cast it away, and dash it against the wall. And so God who created man, still preserveth him, and useth all means to make him conformable to His will, before He cast him off. The Lord did long strive with men in the old world, to turn them from their wickedness; but when nothing would serve them, it is said (Gen. 6:6), It repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth. And in like manner, if we which are the creatures of God, shall rebel against this our Creator, it may be, He will bear with us for a time; but if we continue therein, and do not turn to Him by repentance, He will bring upon us a final destruction both in body and soul. Yet I say, before He does this, His manner is to try all means to preserve us, and turn us unto Him; and afterward if nothing will serve, then will He shew forth His power in menŐs confusion; and therefore it stands us in hand to look unto it betime.

 

(2) Secondly, look what power the Lord did manifest in the creation of all things, the same power He both can and will make manifest in the redemption of mankind. In the beginning God made all things by His Word; and so likewise He is able still to make by the power of His Word, of a wicked man that is dead in sin, a true and lively member of Christ; which the prophet Isaiah signifieth when he saith (Isa. 45:12,13), The Lord hath created the heavens, and spread them abroad, He that stretcheth forth the earth, and the bounds thereof etc., I the Lord have called thee in righteousness. This must not encourage evil men in their wickedness, but it serveth to comfort the people of God, considering that the same God which once created them, is also as able to save them; and will shew Himself as mighty in their redemption as He was in their creation of nothing.

 

 

And thus much of the Creation in general. Now it followeth that we come to the handling of the parts thereof. For it is not said barely that God is a Creator, but particularly that He is a Creator of heaven and earth; of both which we will speak in order.

 

(1) And first of the creation of heaven.

 

Heaven.

Heaven, in GodŐs Word signifieth all that is above the earth; for the air wherein we breathe is called heaven. And according to this acceptation of the word, there are three heavens, as Paul saith (2 Cor. 12:2), He was taken up into the third heaven. The first of these heavens is that space which is from the earth upward unto the firmament where the stars are. Thus the birds which fly in the air between the earth and the stars, are called the fowls of heaven (Gen. 6:7). And when God sent the flood to drown the old world, Moses saith, The windows of heaven were opened (Gen. 7:11), meaning that God poured down rain from the clouds abundantly, for the making of a flood to drown the world. The second heaven is that which containeth the sun, the moon and the stars. So Moses saith (Gen. 1:14), that God in the beginning created the sun, the moon and the stars, and placed them in the firmament of heaven. Besides these two heavens, there is a third, which is invisible. And yet it is the work of GodŐs hands. And it is that glorious place where Christ even in His manhood sitteth at the right hand of the Father; and whither the souls of the faithful departed are carried and placed; and in which at the end of the world shall all the elect both in body and soul have perfect joy and bliss in the glorious sight and presence of God for ever. But for the better conceiving the truth, we are to scan and consider diligently three questions:

 

(i) First, whether this third heaven be a creature; for many have thought it was never created, but was eternal with God Himself. But it is a gross error contrary to GodŐs Word. For the Scripture saith (Heb. 11:10), Abraham looked for a city (meaning the heavenly Jerusalem, this third heaven) having a foundation, whose builder and maker is God. Further, if it be eternal, it must either be a creator or a creature. But it is no creator, for then it should be God; and therefore it must needs be a creature. But some will say, the Lord is eternal, and this third heaven hath always been the place of the LordŐs abode, and therefore it is also eternal. Answer: True it is indeed that God doth shew His glory and majesty in the third heaven. But yet that cannot possibly contain His Godhead, as Solomon saith (1 Kin. 8:27), Behold the heavens, and the heaven of heavens, are not able to contain thee. Wherefore though God doth manifest His eternal glory in this third heaven, yet doth it not follow that therefore this place should be eternal; for He needs no habitation to dwell in, He is everywhere, filling all things with His presence, excluded from no place.

 

(ii) The second question is, where this third heaven is? Answer: There are some Protestants who say, it is everywhere. And they hold this opinion to maintain the real presence of the LordŐs body in or about the sacrament. But if it were everywhere, then hell should be in heaven, which no man will say. But heaven is indeed above these visible heavens which we see with our eyes. So the apostle saith (Eph. 4:8,10), Christ ascended on high far above all heavens etc. and again it is said of Stephen (Acts 7:55,56) that, being full of the Holy Ghost, He looked up steadfastly into the heavens, and saw them open, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.

 

(iii) Thirdly, it may be demanded, why God created this third heaven? Answer: God made it for this cause: that there might be a certain place wherein He might make manifest His glory and majesty to His elect angels and men; for the which cause it was created a thousandfold more glorious than the two former heavens are, and in this respect is called Paradise (Luke 23:43), by reason of the joy and pleasure arising from GodŐs glorious presence. And our Saviour Christ calleth it the house of God His Father (John 14:2), because into it must be gathered all GodŐs children. It is called the kingdom of heaven, because God is the King thereof, and ruleth there in perfect glory. True it is, God hath His kingdom here on earth; but He ruleth not so fully and gloriously here, as He shall in heaven; for this is the kingdom of grace, but that is the kingdom of His glory, where He so reigneth that He will be all in all, first in Christ, and then in the elect, both angels and men.

 

Now follow the duties whereunto we are moved principally in consideration of the making of the third heaven:

 

(i) First, if God created it especially for the manifestation of His glory unto men, that at the end of the world, by the fruition of GodŐs most glorious presence, there they might have perfect joy and felicity; we have occasion here to consider the wonderful madness and forgetfulness that reigneth everywhere among men which only have regards to the estate of this life, and cast all their care on this world, and never so much as once dream of the joyful and blessed estate which is prepared for GodŐs children in the highest heaven. If a man having two houses; one but a homely cottage and the other a princely palace, should leave the better and take all the care and pains for the dressing up of the first, would not every man say he were a mad man? Yes, undoubtedly. And yet this is the spiritual madness that takes place everywhere among men; for God hath prepared for us two houses, one is this, our body which we bear about us which is an house of clay, as Job saith (Job 4:19), We dwell in houses of clay whose foundation is dust, which shall be destroyed before the moth; and as Peter saith (2 Pet. 1:14), a tabernacle, or tent, which we must shortly take down, and where we abide but as pilgrims and strangers (1 Pet. 2:11). Again, the same God of His wonderful goodness hath provided for us a second house in the third heaven, wherein we must not abide for a time and so depart; but for evermore enjoy the blessed felicity of His glorious presence. For all this mark a spiritual frenzy possessing the minds of men; for they employ all their care and industry for the maintaining of this house of clay, whose foundation is but dust; but for the blessed estate of the second house, which is prepared for them in the kingdom of heaven, they have little regard or care. They will both run and ride from place to place day and night, both by sea and land; but for what? Is it for the preparing of a mansion in the heavenly Jerusalem? Nothing less, for they will scarce go out of the door to use any means whereby they may come unto it; but all their study is to patch up the ruins and breaches of their earthly cabin. Now let all men judge in their own consciences whether, as I have said, this be not more than senseless madness? Again, the body is but a tabernacle wherein we must rest as it were for a night, as a stranger doth in an inn, and so away; but the second house is eternal in the heavens, an everlasting seat of all felicity and happiness. And therefore our duty is above all things to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, as Christ Himself biddeth us (Matt. 6:33). And if the Lord have there prepared such a place for us, then we must in this world use all good means whereby we may be made worthy of the fruition of it; and also fit and ready at the day of death to enter into it; which at the day of judgment we shall fully possess both in soul and body, and there reign eternally in all happiness with God Almighty our Creator, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. But some may say, How shall a man so prepare himself that he may be fit for that place? Answer: This the Holy Ghost teacheth us; for speaking of this heavenly Jerusalem, He saith (Rev. 21:27), There shall enter into it none unclean thing, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or lies. The means then to make ourselves fit is to seek to be reconciled to God in Christ for our sins past, and withal to endeavour to have an assurance of the free remission and pardon of them all in the blood of Christ. And as touching that part of life which is to come, we must remember what St John saith (1 John 3:3), Everyone that hath this hope purifieth himself, meaning that he which hath hope to reign with Christ in heaven, useth the means whereby he may purify and keep himself from sin. As also he saith after (1 John 5:18), that he which is born of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not, signifying that all such persons as are truly justified and sanctified, carry such a narrow and strait watch over the whole course of their lives and conversations that the devil can never give them deadly wounds, and so wholly overcome them. Now the man that is resolved in his conscience of the pardon of his sin for the time past, and hath steadfast purpose in his heart to keep himself upright, and continually to walk in righteousness and true holiness all the days of his life; this man, I say, is prepared and made fit to enter into the heavenly Jerusalem. Come death when it will, he is ready. And howsoever he must not look for heaven here upon earth, yet he is as it were in the suburbs of this heavenly city; and at the end of this life, the King thereof, the Lord Jesus, will open the gates and receive him into His kingdom, for he is already entered into the kingdom of grace. To conclude this point, let every man in the fear of God, be moved hereby to set his heart to prepare himself; that when God shall call him hence, he may be fit to enter into that glory.

 

(ii) Secondly, seeing God hath prepared the third heaven for us, it teacheth every man in this world to be content with the estate wherein God hath placed him, whether it be high or low, rich or poor. Why so? Because here he is but a pilgrim, and lives in a cottage of clay, and in a tent wherein he must abide but a while, as a pilgrim doth, oftentimes carrying his house about with him. And we shall in better sort accept the afflictions which God sends us in this life, if we remember that there is prepared for us a place of joy, which must be our resting place and perfect felicity for evermore. This was the practice of the children of God, especially of Abraham; for when the Lord called him out of his own country, he obeyed, and by faith abode in the promised land, as in a strange country, as one that dwelt in the tents, with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him in the same promise; and the reason followeth: for he looked for a city having a foundation, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:9,10). They believed that these things which the Lord promised were shadows of better things; and hereon stayed themselves, being well content with that estate whereto God had called them. So Paul was contented to bear the afflictions which God hath laid upon him, and his reason was (2 Cor. 4:18), We look not on things that are seen, but on things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. And in the next chapter (2 Cor. 5:1,2), We know (saith he) that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be destroyed, we have a dwelling given us of God, that is, an house not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens. And for this cause his desire was rather to remove out of this body and to be with the Lord.

 

 

(2) And thus much concerning heaven. Now followeth the second part of GodŐs creation in these words:

 

And earth.

Earth signifieth the huge mass or body standing of sea and land on which we live, and all things that be in or upon the earth whatsoever. As Paul saith (Col. 1;16), For by Him were created all things that are in heaven or in earth etc. In other creeds which were made since this of the apostles, being expositions of that; there is added maker of all things visible and invisible. Here we have occasion to speak of all creatures, but that were infinite. Therefore I will make choice of these two: (i) good angels and (ii) men.

 

(i)

(a) That angels had a beginning it is no question; for Paul saith (Col. 1:16) that by God all things were created in heaven and earth, things visible and invisible whether thrones, principalities or powers. And in respect of the creation, angels are called the sons of God (Job 38:7). But the time and day of their creation cannot be set down further than this: that they were created in the compass of the six days. For Moses saith (Gen. 2:1), Thus, namely in the compass of the first six days, the heavens and the earth were fashioned, and all the host of them; that is, all variety of creatures in heaven and earth, serving for the beauty and glory thereof; whereof no doubt the angels are the principal.

 

(b) Touching the nature of angels, some have thought that they are nothing but qualities and motions in the minds of men, as the Sadducees and Libertines of this time. But the truth is that they are spirits, that is, spiritual and invisible substances created by God, and really subsisting; for the Scripture ascribes unto them such kind of actions which cannot be performed by the creatures, save only such as be substances; as to stand before the throne of God, to behold the face of the Father, to carry menŐs souls to heaven. Yet we must not imagine that they are bodily substances consisting of flesh and bone. And though they took upon them visible shapes and forms, and did eat and drink in company of men, and thereupon are called men in Scripture (Luke 24:4); yet they did this by divine dispensation for a time, that they might the better perform the actions and businesses among men, to which they were by God appointed. And the bodies of men which they assumed, were no parts of their natures united to them, as our bodies are to us; but rather they were as garments are to us, which they might put off and on at their pleasure. If any shall ask whence they had these bodies, the answer is that either they were created of nothing by the power of God, or framed of some other matter subsisting before. If again it be asked, what became of these bodies when they laid them down, because they used them but for a time, the answer may be that if they were made of nothing, they were again resolved into nothing; if made of other creatures, that then they were resolved into the same bodies of which they were first made, though indeed we can define nothing certainly in this point.

 

(c) Angels are reasonable creatures, of excellent knowledge and understanding, far surpassing all men save Christ. Their knowledge is threefold: natural, revealed and experimental. Natural, which they received from God in the creation. Revealed, which God makes manifest to them in process of time, whereas before they knew it not. Thus God revealed to Gabriel the mystery of the seventy weeks (Dan. 8,9). And in the apocalypse many things are revealed to the angels that they might reveal them to us. Experimental knowledge is that which they get by observing the dealing of God in the whole world, but especially in the church. And thus Paul saith (Eph. 3:10) that to principalities and powers in heavenly places is known the manifold wisdom of God by the church.

 

(d) And as the knowledge, so also the power of the good angels is exceeding great (Psa. 103:20). They are able to do more than all men can. Therefore Paul calls them mighty angels (2 Thess. 1:7). Yea, their power is far superior to the power of the wicked angels who, since the fall, are under them and cannot prevail against them.

 

(e) The place of abode of angels is the highest heaven, unless they be sent thence by the Lord to do some thing appointed by Him. This our Saviour Christ teacheth, when he saith (Matt. 18:10) that the angels of little ones do always behold the face of their Father in heaven. And the wicked angels before their fall, were placed in heaven, because they were cast hence.

 

(f) That there be certain distinctions and diversities of angels, it is very likely, because they are called thrones and principalities and powers, cherubim and seraphim. But what be the distinct degrees and orders of angels, and whether they are to be distinguished by their natures, gifts or offices, no man by Scripture can determine.

 

(g) The ministry of angels to which the Lord hath set them apart is three-fold, and it respecteth either God Himself, of His church, or His enemies.

 

i. The ministry which they perform to God is, first of all, to adore, praise and glorify Him continually. Thus the cherubim in IsaiahŐs vision (Isa. 6:3) cry one to another, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts; the world is full of His glory. And when they were to publish the birth of the Messiah, they begin on this manner (Luke 2:14), Glory to God in the highest heavens, peace on earth. And John in his vision heard the angels about the throne (Rev. 5:11,12) crying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, riches and strength, wisdom, and honour, and glory, and praise. And indeed the highest end of the ministry of angels is the manifestation of the glory of God. The second is to stand in GodŐs presence, evermore ready to do His commandments, as David saith (Psa. 103:26), Praise the Lord ye His angels that excel in strength, that do His commandments in obeying the voice of His Word. And here is a good lesson for us. We pray daily that we may do the will of God, as the angels in heaven do it. Let us therefore be followers of the holy angels in praising God and doing His commandments as they do.

 

ii. The ministry of angels concerning the church stands in this: that they are ministering spirits for the good of them which shall be the heirs of salvation. This good is threefold: in this life, at the end of this life, and in the last judgment. Again, the good which they procure to the people of God in this life is either in respect of body or soul. In respect of the body, in that they do most carefully perform all manner of duties which do necessarily tend to preserve the temporal life of GodŐs children, even from the beginning of their days to the end. David saith (Psa. 34:7) that they pitch their tents about him that fears the Lord. When Hagar was cast forth of AbrahamŐs family (Gen. 16:7), and wandered in the wilderness, an angel comes unto her and gives her counsel to return to her mistress and humble herself. When Elijah fled from Jezabel (1 Kin. 19:5,7), he was both comforted, directed and fed by an angel. And an angel bids the same Elijah (2 Kin. 1:3) be of good courage and without fear to go to king Ahaziah and reprove him. Angels (Gen. 19:15-17) bring Lot and his family out of Sodom and Gomorrah before they burn the cities with fire and brimstone. When Jacob feared his brother Esau (Gen. 32:1,2), he saw angels coming unto him; and he plainly acknowledgeth that they were sent to be his protectors and his guides in his journey. Abraham, being persuaded of the assistance of GodŐs angels in all his ways (Gen. 24:7), said to his servant, The Lord God of heaven who took me from my fatherŐs house etc., will send his angel before thee. The wise men that came to see Christ (Matt. 2:12,13), are admonished by angels to return another way, and Joseph by the direction of an angel fled into Egypt that he might preserve Christ from the hands of the cruel tyrant. The tents of the Israelites (Exod. 14:19; 23:20) were guarded by angels. The three children (Dan. 3:28) are delivered from the fiery furnace, and (Dan. 6:22) Daniel out of the lionsŐ den by angels. When Christ was in heaviness (Matt. 4:11), they ministered unto Him and comforted Him. And (Acts 12:7) they brought Peter out of prison, and set him at liberty.

 

Again, the angels procure good unto the souls of the godly, in that they are maintainers and furtherers of the true worship of God, and of all good means whereby we attain to salvation. The law was delivered in mount Sinai by angels (Acts 7:38), and a great part of the Revelation of John. They expound to Daniel the seventy weeks (Dan. 9:22). They instruct the apostles touching the return of Christ to the last judgment (Acts 1:11). An angel forbids John to worship him (Rev. 22:9), but worship God the Creator of heaven and earth. They fetch the apostles out of prison (Acts 5:19,20), and bid them teach in the temple. An angel brings Philip to the eunuch (Acts 8:26), that he may expound the Scriptures to him. Lastly, they reveal the mysteries and the will of God: as to Abraham (Gen. 22:12) that he should not kill his son Isaac; to Mary and Elizabeth (Luke 1:13, 28, 35), the nativity of John Baptist and of Christ our Saviour; and all this they do according unto the will of God (Gal. 1:8). Beside all this, angels rejoice at the conversion of sinners by the ministry of the gospel (Luke 15:7,10). And for the churchŐs sake, they protect not only particular men, but even whole nations and kingdoms.

 

The ministry of angels in the end of this life is to carry the souls of the godly into AbrahamŐs bosom (Luke 16:22), as they did the soul of Lazarus. And in the day of judgment (Matt. 25:31,32) to gather all the elect that they may come before Christ, and enter into eternal fruition of glory both in body and soul.

 

iii. The third and last part of the ministry of angels concerns GodŐs enemies; and it is to execute judgments on all wicked persons and impenitent sinners. Thus all the firstborn of Egypt are slain by an angel (Exod. 12:23,29). When Joshua was about to sack Jericho (Josh. 5:13), an angel appeared unto him as a captain, with drawn sword to fight for Israel. When the host of Sennacherib (2 Kin. 19:35) came against Israel, the angel of the Lord in one night slew an hundred eighty and five thousand. Because Herod gave not glory unto God (Acts 12:23), the angel of the Lord smote him, as he was eaten up of worms and died.

 

Uses.

And thus we see what points we are to mark touching the good angels. Now followeth the use which we are to make in regard of their creation.

 

(a) First, whereas they are GodŐs ministers to inflict punishments upon the wicked, here is a special point to be learned of us: that every man in the fear of God take heed how he liveth and continueth in his sins, for the case is dangerous, considering that God hath armies of angels which stand ready everywhere to execute GodŐs heavy judgments upon them that live thus. When the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord (Exod. 32:25), Moses saith, they were naked, that is, open to all the judgments of God; even destitute of the guard of His good angels. Wretched Balaam, that wizard (Num. 22:31), went to Balak to curse the children of Israel; and as he went it is said, the angel of the Lord stood in his way with a drawn sword; and if the ass had been no wiser than his master, the angel had slain him. Whereby it appears that when we rush on into the practice of any sin, we do as much as in us lieth to cause God to send down His judgments upon us for our sins, and that by the ministry of His angels.

 

(b) Secondly, we are taught another lesson by Christ Himself (Matt. 18:10). See (saith he) that you despise not one of these little ones. Now mark His reason: For I say unto you, that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father. By little ones He meaneth young infants which are within the Covenant; or others which are like to young infants in simplicity and innocence of life and humility. And Christ will not have them to be despised. A duty very needful to be stood upon in these times. For nowadays, if a man carry but a shew of humility, of good conscience, and of the fear of God, he is accounted but a silly fellow, he is hated, mocked, and despised on every hand. But this should not be so. For him whom God honoureth with the protection of His good angels, why should any mortal man despise? And it stands mockers and scorners in hand to take heed whom they mock. For though men for their parts put up many abuses and injuries, yet their angels may take just revenge, by smiting them with plagues and punishments for their offences.

 

(c) Thirdly, seeing angels are about us, and serve for the good of men, we must do whatsoever we do in reverent and seemly manner, as Paul gives counsel to the Philippians (Phil. 4:8), Brethren (saith He) whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, just, pure, and pertain to love, of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things. Many men do all their affairs orderly for avoiding shame, but we must do the same upon a further ground, namely, because GodŐs holy angels wait on us. And considering that men have care to behave themselves well when they are before men, what a shame is it for a man to behave himself unseemly either in open or in secret, he then being before the glorious angels? Paul saith (1 Cor. 11;10), that the woman ought to have power on her head because of the angels; that is, not only the ministers of the church, but GodŐs heavenly angels, which daily wait upon His children and guard them in all their ways.

 

(d) Fourthly, this must teach us modesty and humility; for the angels of God are very notable and excellent creatures, and therefore they are called in the Psalms, Elohim, gods. Yet how excellent soever they be, they abase themselves to become guardians and keepers unto sinful men. Now if the angels do so abase themselves; then much more ought every man to abase and humble himself in modesty and humility before God. And whatsoever our calling is, we must not be puffed up, but be content. This is a necessary duty for all, but especially for those which are in the schools of the prophets; whatsoever their gifts or birth be, they must not think themselves too good for the calling of the ministry, And if God hath called us thereto, we must be content to become servants unto all in the matter of salvation; though the men whom we teach be never so base or simple; for no man doth so far excel the basest person in the world, as the glorious angels of God do exceed the most excellent man that is. Therefore seeing they vouchsafe to become servants unto us, we must not think ourselves too good to serve our poor brethren.

 

And thus much of the duties. Now follow the consolations that arise from this, that God hath given His glorious angels to serve for the protection and safeguard of His church and people. If menŐs spiritual eyes were opened, they should see the devil and his angels, and all the wicked of this world to fight against them. And if there were no means of comfort in this case, then our estate were most miserable. But mark, as GodŐs servant hath all these wicked ones to be his enemies; so he hath garrisons of angels that pitch their tents about him and defend him from them all. So David saith (Psa. 91:11,12), He shall give thy angels charge over thee, and they shall keep him in all thy ways, that thou dash not thy foot against a stone; where the angels of God are compared to nurses which carry little children in their arms, feed them, and are always ready at hand to save them from falls and many other dangers. When the king of Syria sent his horses (2 Kin. 6:15-17) to take Elisha the LordŐs prophet, because he revealed his counsel to the king of Israel; his servant saw them round about Dothan where he was, and he cried, Alas, master, what shall we do? Then Elisha answered, Fear not, for they that be with us, are more than they that be with them; and he besought the Lord to open his servantŐs eyes, and he looked, and behold, the mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. So likewise not many years ago, our land was preserved from the invasion of the Spaniard, whose huge navy lay upon our sea coasts. But how were we delivered from them? Surely by no strength, nor power, nor cunning of man; but it was the Lord, no doubt, by His angels that did keep our coasts, and did scatter our enemies, and drown them. Let enemies rage, and let them do that they will, if a man keep himself in the ways which God prescribeth, he hath GodŐs angels to guide and preserve him; which thing must move men to love and embrace the true religion, and conform themselves in all good conscience to the rule of GodŐs Word. For when a man doth not so, all the angels of God are his enemies; and at all times ready to execute GodŐs vengeance upon him. But when men carry themselves as dutiful children to God, they have this prerogative: that GodŐs holy angels do watch about them, and defend them day and night from the power of their enemies, even in common calamities and miseries. Before God sends His judgments on Jerusalem, an angel is sent to mark them in the foreheads that mourn for the abominations of the people (Ezek. 9). And this privilege none can have, but he whose heart is sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and that man shall have it unto the end (Exod. 12:23 with 1 Cor. 5:7).

 

And thus much of the creation of angels.

 

 

(ii)

Now it followeth to speak of the creation of man; wherein we must consider two things: the points of doctrine and the uses.

 

For the points of doctrine:

(a) First, man was created and framed by the hand of God, and made after the image of God. For Moses brings in the Lord speaking thus (Gen. 1:26,27): Let us make man in our image etc., in the image of God created He them, which also must be understood of angels. The image of God is nothing else but a conformity of man unto God, whereby man is holy as God is holy; for Paul saith (Eph. 4:24), Put on the new man, which is after God, that is, in GodŐs image is created in righteousness and holiness. Now I reason thus: wherein the renewing of the image of God in man doth stand, therein was it at the first. But the renewing of GodŐs image in man doth stand in righteousness and holiness. Therefore GodŐs image wherein man was created at the beginning, was a conformity to God in righteousness and holiness. Now whether GodŐs image doth further consist in the substance of manŐs body and soul, or in the faculties of both, the Scripture speaks not. This image of God hath two principal parts: i. Wisdom; ii. Holiness.

 

i. Concerning wisdom, Paul saith (Col. 3:10), Put ye on the new man, which is created in knowledge after the image of Him which created him. This wisdom consists in three points:

 

a. In that he knew God his Creator perfectly; for Adam in his innocency knew God so far forth as it was convenient for a creature to know his Creator.

 

b. He knew GodŐs will so far forth as it was convenient for him, to shew his obedience thereunto.

 

c. He knew the wisdom and will of his Creator touching the particular creatures; for after Adam was created, the lord brought every creature unto him, presenting them unto him, as being lord and king over them, that he might give names unto them. Whereby it appears that Adam in his innocency did know the nature of all creatures and the wisdom of God in creating them, else he could not have given them fit names. And when God brought Eve unto Adam, he knew her at the first, and said (Gen. 2:23), This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman etc.

 

ii. The second part of GodŐs image in man is holiness and righteousness; which is nothing else but a conformity of the will and affections, and of the whole disposition of man both in body and soul, to the will of God his Creator. Yet we must remember that Adam in his innocency had a changeable will, so as he could either will good or evil. He was created with such liberty of will, as that he could indifferently will either. And we must not think that the will of the creature was made unchangeably good, for that is peculiar to the will of God, and hereby is the Creator distinguished from the creature.

 

And here two things offer themselves to be considered:

 

a. The first: Why the man is called the image of God, and not the woman. Answer: He is so called, not because holiness and righteousness is peculiar to him which is common to both; but because God hath placed more outward excellency and dignity in the person of a man than of a woman.

 

b. The second: How Christ should be called the image of God (Col. 1:15). Answer: He is so called for two special causes: First, because He is of the same substance with the Father, and therefore is His most absolute image, and as the author of Hebrews saith (Heb. 1:3), The brightness of His glory, and the engraven form of His Person. Secondly, because God, being invisible, doth manifest Himself in Christ, in whom as in a glass we may behold the wisdom, goodness, justice, and mercy of God.

 

 

(b) The second point to be considered in the creation of man is the dignity of his person. For David saith (Psa. 8:5), Thou hast Him little inferior to the angels, and crowned Him with glory and worship. This dignity stands in four points:

 

i. A blessed communion with the true God. For Paul speaking of the Gentiles which were not called, saith (Eph. 4:18) they were strangers from the life of God. Where, by the contrary, we may gather that our first parents in their innocency lived the life of God, which is nothing else but to lead a life here on earth, as that the creature shall have a blessed and immediate fellowship with God; which stands in this: that before the fall of man, God revealed Himself in a special manner unto him, so as his very body and soul was a temple and dwelling place of the Creator. This fellowship between God and man in his innocency, was made manifest in the familiar conference which God vouchsafed to man. But since the fall, this communion is lost; for man cannot abide the presence of God. And therefore when Peter had fished all night and caught nothing, our Saviour bad him cast down his net to make a draught, who did so; but when he saw the great multitude of fishes that were taken, at this sight beholding but as it were some sparks of the glorious majesty of God in Christ, he fell down at His feet, saying (Luke 5:8), Lord depart from me, for I am a sinner.

 

ii. The second point wherein manŐs dignity consisteth, is that man was made lord and king over all creatures. As David saith (Psa. 8:6), Thou hast made him to have dominion in the works of thy hands. And therefore God, having created him in His image, biddeth him (Gen. 1:28), Rule over the fishes of the sea, over the fowls of the heaven, and over every beast that moveth upon the earth. And afterward, He brought them all to him, as a sovereign lord and king, to be named by him. And answerably every creature in his kind gave reverence and subjection unto man, before his fall, as unto their lord and king. Where, by the way, we must remember that when we see any creature that is hurtful and noisome unto man, and would rather devour than obey him; it must put us in mind of our sin. For by creation, we were made lords and kings over all creatures. And they durst not but reverence and obey us. But the rebellion of man unto God is the cause of the rebellion of the creatures unto us.

 

iii. The third part of manŐs dignity by creation, is that before his fall he had a wonderful beauty and majesty above all creatures in his body. Whereupon David saith (Psa. 8:5), the Lord hath crowned him with glory and worship. And in the renewing of the covenant with Noah, God saith (Gen. 9:2) that the dread and fear of man shall be upon all creatures; which now though it be but small, yet doth it plainly shew what was the glory and majesty of manŐs person at the first.

 

iv. The fourth dignity of manŐs estate in innocency, is that his labour was without pain or weariness. If he had never fallen, he should have laboured in the garden; but so as he should have never been wearied therewith. For when Adam was fallen, God said (Gen. 3:19), In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread. Now if the pain in labour come after as a curse upon man for his transgression, then before his fall, man felt no pain in his affairs.

 

And in these four things consisteth manŐs dignity which he had in the Creation.

 

 

(c) Now in the third, followeth manŐs calling before his fall, which is twofold: i. Particular. ii. General.

 

i. ManŐs particular calling was to come into the garden of Eden, to keep it, and to dress the trees and fruits thereof. This shews unto us a good lesson that every man must have a particular calling wherein he ought to walk. And therefore such as spend their time idly in gaming and vain delights, have much to answer to God at the day of judgment. This will not excuse a man to say then that he had land and living to maintain himself, and therefore was to live as he list; for even Adam in his innocency had all things at his will, and wanted nothing, yet even then God employed him in a calling. Therefore none must be exempted, but every man both high and low must walk in his proper calling.

 

ii. AdamŐs general calling was to worship his Creator, to which he was bound by the right of creation, considering the moral law was written in his heart by nature. Which is signified in the Decalogue (Exod. 20:2), where the Lord requires worship and obedience of His people because He is Jehovah, that is, one which hath being in Himself, and gives being to all men by creation. For the better understanding of this point, we are to consider three things: a. The place where Adam did worship. b. The time. c. The sacraments.

 

a. For the first, God ever since the beginning had a place where He would be worshipped, and it is called GodŐs house, which then was the garden of Eden. For it was unto Adam a place appointed by God for His worship; as church assemblies are unto us; where also the Lord at sometime did in a special manner shew Himself unto His creature.

 

b. Touching the time of GodŐs worship, it was the seventh day from the beginning of the creation, the Sabbath day. And here we must note that the keeping of the Sabbath is moral. Some indeed do plead that it is but a ceremony, yet falsely; for it was ordained before the fall of man, at which time ceremonies signifying sanctification had no place. Nay, mark further, Adam in his innocency was not clogged with sin as we are; yet then he had a set Sabbath to worship God His Creator. And therefore much more need hath every one of us of a Sabbath day wherein we may sever ourselves from the works of our callings, and the works of sin, to the worship of God in the exercise of religion and godly meditation of our creation. This point must be learned of us, for when no occasion is offered of business, then men will formerly seem to keep the Sabbath; but if there come occasion of breaking the Sabbath, as traffic, gaming and vain shews, then Sabbath farewell, men will have their pleasures, let them worship God that will. But let us remember in the fear of God, that whosoever continue in the breach of this law, being moral, God will no less pour forth His punishments upon them, than for the breach of any other commandment. The consideration whereof, must move every man to a reverent sanctifying of the LordŐs day.

 

c. Now for AdamŐs sacraments, they were two: The tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. These did serve to exercise Adam in obedience unto God. The tree of life was to signify assurance of life for ever, if he did keep GodŐs commandments. The tree of knowledge of good and evil was a sacrament to shew unto him that if he did transgress GodŐs commandments, he should die. And it was so called because it did signify that if he transgressed this law, he should have experience both of good and evil in himself.

 

 

(d) Now in the fourth place followeth the end of the creation of man, which is twofold:

 

i. First, that there might be a creature to whom God might make manifest Himself, who in a special manner should set forth and acknowledge His wisdom, goodness, mercy, in the creation of heaven and earth, and of things that are in them, as also His providence in governing the same.

 

ii. Secondly, God having decreed to glorify His name in shewing His mercy and justice upon His creature, hereupon in time createth men to shew His mercy in the salvation of some, and to shew His justice in the just and deserved damnation of other some. And therefore He hath appointed the creation specially of man, to be a means of manifestation and beginning of the execution of His eternal counsel.

 

 

Thus much concerning manŐs creation in general. The special parts of men are two: body and soul. And the reason why the Lord would have him stand on these two parts is this: Some creatures made before him were only bodily; as beasts, fishes, fowls. Some spiritual, as angels. Now man is both, spiritual in regard of his soul, corporal and sensible in regard of his body, that nothing might be wanting to the perfection of nature. If it be alleged that man consists of three parts, body soul and spirit, because Paul prayeth (1 Thess. 5:23) that the Thessalonians may be sanctified in body, soul and spirit; the answer is that the spirit signifies the mind, whereby men conceive and understand such things as may be understood; and the soul is there taken for the will and affections; and therefore these twain are not two parts, but only two distinct faculties of one and the same soul.

 

The body of man at the first was formed by God of clay, or of the dust of the earth, not to be the grave of the soul, as Plato said, but to be an excellent and most fit instrument to put in execution the powers and faculties of the soul. And howsoever in itself considered, it is mortal, because it is compounded of contrary natures called elements; yet by the appointment and blessing of God in the creation, it became immortal till the fall of man.

 

As for the soul, it is no accidental quality, but a spiritual and invisible essence or nature, subsisting by itself. Which plainly appears in that the souls of men have being and continuance as well forth of the bodies of men as in the same; and are as well subject to torments as the body is. And whereas we can and do put in practice sundry actions of life, sense, motion, understanding, we do it only by the power and virtue of the soul.

 

Hence ariseth the difference between the souls of men and beasts. The souls of men are substances, but the souls of other creatures seem not to be substances; because they have no being out of the bodies in which they are; but rather they are certain peculiar qualities arising of the matter of the body, and vanishing with it. And it may be for this cause (Gen. 9:4) that the soul of the beast is said to be in the blood, whereas the like is not said of the soul of man.

 

And though menŐs souls be spirits as angels are, yet a difference must be made; for angels cannot be united with bodies, so as both shall make one whole and entire person, whereas menŐs souls may. Yea, the soul coupled with the body is not only the mover of the body, but the principal cause that makes man to be a man.

 

The beginning of the soul is not of the essence of God, unless we will make every manŐs soul to be God; neither doth it spring of the soul of the parents, for the soul can no more beget a soul than an angel can beget an angel. And Adam is called a living soul, and not a quickening soul. And earthly fathers are called the fathers of our bodies, and not of our souls. It remains therefore as being most agreeable to the Scriptures, that the souls of men are then created by God of nothing when they are infused into the body.

 

And though the souls of men have a beginning, yet they have no end, but are eternal. And when they are said to die, it is not because thy cease at any time to subsist or have being in nature, but because they cease to be righteous, or to have fellowship with God.

 

 

Uses.

(a) Whereas our bodies are GodŐs workmanship, we must glorify Him in our bodies, and all the actions of body and soul, our eating and drinking, our living and dying, must be referred to His glory. Yea, we must not hurt or abuse our body, but present them as holy and living sacrifices unto God. And whereas God made us of the dust of the earth, we are not to glory and boast ourselves, but rather to take occasion to praise the great goodness of God, that hath vouchsafed to honour us being but dust and ashes. And after that man is created, what is his life? Alas, it is nothing but a little breath. Stop his mouth and his nostrils, and he is but a dead man. By this we are put in mind to consider of our frail and uncertain estate, and to lay aside all confidence in ourselves. And for this cause Isaiah teacheth us (Isa. 2:22) to have no confidence in man, because his breath is in his nostrils.

 

(b) Again, let us mark the frame and shape of manŐs body. All other creatures go with their bodies and eyes to the groundward; but man was made to go upright; and whereas all other creatures have but four muscles to turn their eyes round about, man hath a fifth, to pull his eyes up to heavenward. Now what doth this teach us? Surely, that howsoever we seek for other things, yet, first of all, and above all, we should seek for the kingdom of heaven, and the righteousness thereof; and that our whole desire should be set to enjoy the blessed estate of GodŐs children in heaven. Secondly, it teaches us in receiving GodŐs creatures, to return thankfulness unto God, by lifting up the heart to heaven for the same. These are very needful and profitable lessons in these days; for most men indeed go upright; but look into their lives, and they might as well go on all fours; for in their conversation they set their whole hearts upon the earth as the beast doth, and their eyes upon the things of this world. Hereby they do abase themselves, and deface their bodies, and being men, make themselves as beasts. We shall see great numbers of men that run and ride from place to place, to provide for the body; but to seek the kingdom of heaven, where their souls should dwell after this life in joy for ever, they will not stir one foot.

 

(c) Thirdly, manŐs body by creation was made a temple framed by GodŐs own hands for Himself to dwell in; therefore our duty is to keep our bodies pure and clean, and not to suffer them to be instruments whereby to practise the sin of the heart (1 Cor. 6:19). If a man had a fair house wherein he must entertain a prince, and should make thereof a swine sty, or a stable, would not all men say that he did greatly abuse both the house and the prince? Even so, manŐs body being at the first made a palace for the ever-living God; if a man shall abuse it by drunkenness, swearing, lying, fornication, or any uncleanness, he doth make it instead of a temple for the Holy Ghost, to be a sty or stable for the devil. For the more filthy a manŐs body is, the more fit it is to be a dwelling place for sin and Satan.

 

(d) Fourthly, man by creation was made a goodly creature in the blessed image of God; but by AdamŐs fall, men lost the same, and are now become the deformed children of wrath. Our duty therefore is to labour to get again our first image, and endeavour ourselves to become new creatures. If a nobleman should stain his blood by treason, after his death the posterity will never be at rest till they have got away the spot. Man, by AdamŐs fall, is become a limb of the devil, a rebel and a traitor against GodŐs majesty; and this is the state of every one of us: by nature we are at enmity with God, and therefore we ought to labour above all things in the world, to be restored in Christ to our first estate and perfection, that so we may become bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, being justified and sanctified by His obedience, death and passion.

 

(e) Fifthly, man was created that there might be a way prepared whereby God might shew His grace and mercy in the salvation of some, and His justice in the deserved damnation of others for their sins. And in the creation of man, GodŐs eternal counsel begins to come into execution. Hereupon it stands us in hand to make conscience of every evil way, being repentant for all our sins past, and having a constant purpose never to sin more as we have done, that by our good conversation here in this life, we may have assurance that we be eternally chosen to salvation by the Lord Himself.

 

(f) Lastly, whereas we have learned that the soul of man is immortal, we are hereby taught to take more care for the soul than for the body; for it cannot be extinguished. When it is condemned, even then it is always in dying, and can never die. But alas, in this point the case is flat contrary in the world; for men labour all their lives long to get for the body, but for the soul they care little or nothing at all, whether it sink or swim, go to heaven or hell, they respect not. This doth appear to be true by the practice and behaviour of men on the LordŐs day; for if the number of those which come to hear GodŐs Word, were compared with those which run about their worldly wealth and pleasure, I fear me the better sort would be found to be but a little handful to a huge heap, or as a drop to the ocean sea, in respect of the other. But wilt thou go an hundred miles for the increase of thy wealth and delight of thy body? Then think it not much to go ten thousand miles (if need were) to take any pains for the good of thy soul, and to get food for the same, it being everlasting.

 

 

And thus much for the duties. Now follow the consolations. Although by reason of the fall of man we can have but little comfort now; yet the Creation doth confirm the unspeakable providence of God over His creatures, but especially over man, in that the Lord created him the sixth day; and so before he was made, prepared him a paradise for his dwelling place, and all creatures for his use and comfort. And if He were thus careful for us when we were not, then no doubt He will be much more careful for us at this present, in which we live and have being. Nay, mark further; since the fall, man eats and drinks in quantity a great deal which in common reason should rather kill him than turn to the strength and nourishment of his body. Yet herein doth the wonderful power of the Creator most notably appear, who hath made manŐs stomach as a limbeck or still to digest all meats that are wholesome for his nourishment and preservation.

 

 

 

2b.

And thus much for the Creation. Now in these words, Maker of heaven and earth, is more to be understood than the works of creation, namely, GodŐs providence in governing all things created, as He appointeth in His eternal decree. And therefore St Peter saith (1 Pet. 4:19), God is a faithful Creator, that is, God did not only make heaven and earth, and so leave them, as masons and carpenters leave houses when they are built; for by His providence He doth most wisely govern the same.

 

Now therefore let us come to speak of GodŐs providence. And first of all, the question offers itself to be considered, whether there be any providence or not? For the minds of men are troubled with many doubtings hereof. And to make the question out of all doubt, I will use four arguments to confirm the providence of God:

 

(1) The first is the testimony of the Scripture, which ascribes the event of all particular actions, even such as are in themselves casual as the casting of lots and such like (Prov. 16:33), to the disposition of God. Which very thing also teacheth that even men themselves, endued with reason and understanding, have need to be guided in all things, and governed by God (Prov. 20:24; Jer. 10:23); and it serves to confute those that deny GodŐs providence. Why sayest thou O Jacob, and speakest O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over by my God? (Isa. 40:27).

 

(2) The second argument may be taken from the order which appeareth in the whole course of nature. First, to begin with families, there is to be seen an eutaxie or seemly order, in which some rule and some obey. And the like is to be found in towns, cities, countries and kingdoms; yea, even in the whole world in which all things are so disposed that one serveth for the good of another. Trees and herbs and the grass of the field serve for beasts and cattle; beasts and cattle serve for men; the heavens above serve for them which are beneath; and all the creatures which are above and beneath serve for God. This argueth that God is most wise and provident in ordering and disposing all things whatsoever.

 

(3) The third argument is taken from conscience, specially of malefactors. Suppose a man that commits a murder so closely that no man knows thereof, and that the party himself is free from all the danger of the law; yet shall he have his own conscience to accuse, upbraid and condemn him, yea even to fright him out of his wit, and to give him no more rest than he can find upon the rack or gibbet. Now this accusation and terror of conscience, is nothing else but the forerunner of another most terrible judgment of God, who is Lord of all creatures, and judge of all men. And this also proves the providence of God. For if the conscience can find a man out and lay his faults to his charge, how much more shall God Himself the Creator of the conscience see and consider all his doings?

 

(4) The fourth and last argument is this: The prophecies of things to come should be uncertain or false, if God governed not the world. But now considering things many years ago foretold, come to pass in the same manner as they were foretold by the prophets and apostles; hereby we must certainly conclude that there is a providence of God whereby all and everything is governed.

 

Against the providence of God sundry things be alleged:

 

(1) The first and special is that providence and disorder, confusion and order, cannot stand together. Now, in the world there is nothing but disorder and confusion, in seditions, treasons, conspiracies, and subversions of kingdoms; where also sin and wickedness prevails. Answer: It is true indeed there hath been confusion in the world ever since the fall of man and angels; and it ariseth not from God, but from them alone; who as they did at the first transgress the will of God, so they do what they can to turn all upside down. Now then, confusion and disorder is only in respect of the devil and his instruments; but in regard of God, in the very midst of all confusion, there is order to be found, because He can, and doth, dispose it to the glory of His own name, and to the good and salvation of His chosen, as also to the confusion of His enemies.

 

(2) Again, it may be objected that with ungodly and wicked men, all things go well; and contrariwise with the godly, all things go hardly. For through the world, none are more molested and more under outward misery than they. But if there were any providence in God, then it should be otherwise; the godly should flourish and the wicked perish. Answer: The consideration of the outward estate of men in the world, was to David an occasion of a sore temptation. For when he saw the wicked to prosper always, and their riches to increase, he brake forth and said (Psa. 73:13), Certainly, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. Now if we would repel this temptation, as David afterward did, then we must go into the LordŐs sanctuary with him, and learn to be resolved in these points:

 

(i) Though the godly be laden with miseries, yet even that, by the especial providence of God, turns to their great good. For every man since the fall of Adam is stained with the loathsome contagion of sin. Now the child of God that is truly regenerate, and must be fellow-heir with Christ after this life in the kingdom of glory, must in this life be cast into the LordŐs furnace, that in the fire of affliction he may more and more be scoured and purified from the corruption of his nature, and be estranged from the wickedness of the world.

 

(ii) The prosperous success of the wicked, their spoils, their revenues, and all their honour, turns to their greater woe in the end; as doth appear in JobŐs history, and in the examples of the Chaldeans, of DavidŐs enemies, and of Dives and Lazarus.

 

(3) Thirdly, it may be objected that many things come to pass by chance, and therefore not by GodŐs providence; because chance and providence cannot stand together. Answer: We must distinguish between chance and mere chance. Chance is when anything comes to pass, the cause thereof being unknown not simply, but in respect of man; and therefore in regard of men which know not the reason of things, we may say there is chance. And so the Spirit of God speaks (Eccl. 9:11) Time and chance come to them all. And again (Luke 10:31), By chance there came down a priest the same way. Now this kind of chance is not against the providence of God, but is ordered by it. For things which in regard of men are casual, are certainly known and determined by God. Mere chance is when things are said or thought to come to pass without any cause at all. But that must be abhorred of us as an overturning the providence of God.

 

 

Thus seeing it is plain that there is a providence, let us in the next place see what it is. Providence is a most free and powerful action of God, whereby he hath care over all things that are.

 

Providence hath two parts: knowledge and government.

 

(1) GodŐs knowledge is whereby all things from the greatest to the least are manifest before Him at all times. As David saith (Psa. 11:4), His eyes will consider, His eyelids will try the children of men. And again (Psa. 113:6), He abaseth Himself to behold the things that are in the heaven and the earth. And the prophet Hanani said to Asa (2 Chr. 16:9), The eyes of the Lord behold all the earth. And St James saith (Acts 15:18), From the beginning of the world God knoweth all His works. This point hath a double use, as St Peter saith (1 Pet. 3:11,12), it must move us to eschew evil and do good. Why? Because, saith he, The eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and His countenance against evildoers. Secondly, it must comfort all those that labour to keep a good conscience. For the eyes of God behold all the earth to shew Himself strong with them that are of perfect heart towards Him (2 Chr. 16:9).

 

(2) Government is the second part of GodŐs providence, whereby He ordereth all things and directeth them to good ends. And it must be extended to the very least thing that is in heaven or earth, as to the sparrows, and to oxen, and to the hairs of our heads (Matt. 6:26; Deut. 25:4; Matt. 10:29,30).And here we must consider two things: the manner of government and the means.

 

(i) The manner of government is diverse, according as things are good or evil.

 

(a) A good thing is that which is approved of God. As, first of all, the substances of all creatures, even of the devils themselves; in whom whatsoever is remaining since their creation is in itself good. Secondly, the quantities, qualities, motions, actions and inclinations of the creatures in themselves considered with all their events are good. Again, good is either natural or moral. Natural, which is created by God for the lawful use of man. Moral, which is agreeable to the eternal and unchangeable wisdom of God revealed in the moral law.

 

Now God governeth all good things two ways: First, by sustaining and preserving them that they decay not. Secondly, by moving them that they may attain to the particular ends for which they were severally ordained. For the quality and virtues which were placed in the sun, moon, stars, trees, plants, seeds, etc., would lie dead in them and be unprofitable, unless they were not only preserved, but also stirred up and quickened by the power of God so oft as He employs them to any use.

 

(b) Evil is the destruction of nature; and it is taken [a] for sin, or [b] for the punishment of sin.

 

[a] Now sin is governed by two actions:

 

i The first is an operative pemission. I so call it, because God partly permitteth sin and partly worketh in it. For sin as it is commonly taken hath two parts: the subject or matter, and the form of sin. The subject of sin is a certain quality or action; the form is the anomie or transgression of GodŐs law. The first is good in itself, and every quality or action, so far forth as it is a quality or action, is existing in nature, and hath God to be the author of it. Therefore sin, though it be sufficiently evil to eternal damnation, yet can it not be said to be absolutely evil as God is absolutely good, because the subject of it is good, and therefore it hath in its respects and regards of goodness. In respect of the second, that is, the breach of the law itself, God neither willeth, nor appointeth, nor commandeth, nor causeth, nor helpeth sin, but forbiddeth, condemneth and punisheth it; yet so as withal He willingly permitteth it to be done by others as men and wicked angels, they being the sole authors and causes of it. And this permission by God is upon a good end; because thereby He manifesteth His justice and mercy. Thus it appears that in original sin, the natural inclination of the mind, will and affections in itself considered is from God; and the ataxie or corruption of the inclination is in no wise from Him, but only permitted. Again, that in actual sin the motion of the body or mind is from God, but the evilness and disorder of the motion is not from Him, but freely permitted to be done by others. As for example, in the act of murder, the action of moving the whole body, of stirring the several joints, and the fetching of the blow whereby the man is slain, is from God; for in Him we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28); but the disposing and applying of all these actions to this end, that our neighbourŐs life may be taken away, and we thereby take revenge upon him, is not from God, but from the wicked will of man and the devil.

 

ii. GodŐs second action in the government of sin is after the just permission of it; partly to restrain it more or less, according to His good will and pleasure, and partly to dispose and turn it against the nature thereof to the glory of His own name, to the punishment of His enemies, and to the correcting and chastisement of His elect.

 

[b] As for the second kind of evil, called the punishment of sin, it is the execution of justice, and hath God to be the author of it. And in this respect, Isaiah saith (Isa. 45:7) that God createth evil; and Amos (Amos 3:6), that there is no evil in the city which God hath not done. And God as a most just judge may punish sin by sin, Himself in the mean season free from all sin. And thus the places must be understood in which it is said that God giveth kings in His wrath (Hos. 13:11; Neh. 9:37); hardeneth the heart, blindeth the eyes (Exod. 4-7); mingleth the spirit of errors (Isa. 19:14); giveth up men to a reprobate sense (Rom. 1:28); sendeth strong illusions to believe lies (2 Thess. 2:11); sendeth evil spirits giving them commandment to hurt, and leave to deceive (1 Kin. 22:22) etc.

 

 

(ii) Thus having seen in what manner God governeth all things, let us now come to the means of government. Sometimes God worketh without means, thus He created all things in the beginning; and He made trees and plants to grow and flourish without the heat of the sun or rain. Sometimes He governs according to the usual course and order of nature, as when He preserves our lives by meat and drink; yet so, as He can and doth most freely order all things by means either above nature or against nature, as it shall seem good unto Him. As when He caused the sun to stand in the firmament (Josh. 10:12), and go back in AhazŐs dial (Isa. 38:8); when He caused the fire not to burn the three children (Dan. 3:27); when He kept back dew and rain three years in Israel (1 Kin. 18:45; Jam. 5:17); when He made waters flow out of the rock (Exod. 17:6); when He caused ElijahŐs cloak to divide the waters of Jordan (2 Kin. 2:8); when He caused iron to swim (2 Kin. 6:6); when He preserved Jonah alive three days and three nights in the whaleŐs belly (Jon. 1:17); when He cured diseases by the strength of nature incurable, as the leprosy of Naaman (2 Kin. 5:14), the issue of blood (Matt. 9:20), and blindness (John 9:6,7) etc.

 

Among all the means which God useth, the special are the reasonable creatures, which are no passive instruments, as the tools in the hand of workmen, but active; because as they are moved by God, so again being endued with will and reason, they move themselves. And such instruments are either good or evil.

 

Evil, as wicked men and angels. And these He useth to do His good will and pleasure, even then when they do least of all obey Him. And considering that the sinning instrument which is moved by God doth also move itself freely without any constraint on GodŐs part; God Himself is free from all blame, when the instrument is blameworthy. In directing the instrument, God sinneth not. The action indeed is of Him, but the defect of the action from the instrument; which, being corrupt, can itself do nothing but that that is corrupt; God in the mean season by it, bringeth that to pass which is very good. The whole cause of sin is in Satan and in us. As for God, He puts no wickedness into us, but the evil which he finds in us He moves, that is, orders and governs, and bends it by His infinite wisdom, when and in what manner it pleaseth Him, to the glory of His name, the evil instrument not knowing so much, nay, intending a far other end. As in the mill, the horse blindfolded goes forward, and perceives nothing but that he is in the ordinary way, whereas the miller himself whips him and stirs him forward for another end, namely for the grinding of corn. And this is that which we must hold touching GodŐs providence over wicked men and angels. And it stands with the tenor of the whole Bible. JosephŐs brethren sold him to Egypt very wickedly, even in the testimony of their own consciences; yet Joseph having respect to the counsel and work of God which He performed by His brethren, saith that the Lord sent him hither (Gen. 45:7,8). And the church of Jerusalem saith that Herod and Pontius Pilate did nothing in the death of Christ but that which the hand and counsel of God had determined to be done (Acts 4:28); because though they wickedly intended nothing but to shew their malice and hatred in the death of Christ; yet God propounding a further matter by them than ever they dreamed of, shewed forth His endless mercy to man in the work of redemption. On this manner must all the places of Scripture be understood in which it is said that God gave the wives of David to Absalom (2 Sam. 12:11); that God moved David to number the people (2 Sam. 24:1); that He commanded Shimei to rail on David (2 Sam. 16:11); that the Medes and Persians are His sanctified ones (Isa. 10:5; 13:3); that the revolt of the ten tribes was done by God (2 Chr. 11:4) etc. By all these examples it appears that we must not sever GodŐs permission from His will or decree; and that we must put difference between the evil work of man; and the good work of God which He doth by man. And the whole matter may yet be more clearly perceived by this comparision: A thief at the day of assize is condemned, and the magistrate appoints him to be executed; the hangman owing a grudge to the malefactor, useth him hardly, and prolongeth his punishment longer than he should. Now the magistrate and the hangman do both one and the same work, yet the hangman for his part is a murderer, the magistrate in the mean season no murderer, but a just judge putting justice in execution by the hangman. So God, though He use evil instruments, yet is He free from the evil of the instruments.

 

And further we must here mark the difference which must be made in GodŐs using all kinds of instruments. When He useth good creatures, as angels, He worketh His will not only by them, but also in them; because He inspires them and guides them by His Spirit so as they shall will and do that which He willeth and intendeth. As for evil instruments, He worketh by them only, and not in them; because He holds back His grace from them and leaves them to themselves, to put in practice the corruption of their own hearts.

 

 

Thus much of the parts of GodŐs providence; now follow the kinds thereof. GodŐs providence is either general or special.

 

(1) General, is that which extends itself to the whole world and all things indifferently, even to the devils themselves. By this providence God continues and maintains the order which He set in nature in the Creation, and he preserves the life, substance and the being of all and every creature in his kind.

 

(2) The special providence is that which God sheweth and exerciseth towards His church and chosen people, in gathering and guiding them by His mighty power against the gates of hell. And therefore GodŐs church here upon earth is called the kingdom of grace, in which He shews not only a general power over His creatures, but withal the special operation of His Spirit in bowing and bending the hearts of men to His will.

 

 

Thus much concerning the doctrine of GodŐs providence. Now follows the duties:

 

(1) First, seeing there is a providence of God over everything that is, we are hereby taught to take good heed of the transgression of the least of GodŐs commandments. If men were persuaded that the prince had an eye everywhere, doubtless many subjects in England would walk more obediently to the laws of the land than they do; and durst in no wise work such villainies as are daily practised. Well, howsoever it is with earthly princes, yet this all-seeing presence is least wanting in God. He hath an eye everywhere. Wheresoever thou art, there God beholdeth thee, as David saith (Psa. 53), God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that would understand and seek God. Therefore, except thou be brutish and past shame, take heed of sin. If men had but a spark of grace, the consideration of this would make them loathe the practice of any evil work. Elijah saith to Ahab (1 Kin. 17:1), As the Lord God of Israel liveth before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these three years. Where the prophet confirmeth his speech with an oath saying, As the Lord of hosts liveth it shall be so. And lest Ahab should think he made no conscience what he said, he addeth this clause: that he stood in the presence of God. As if he should say: Howsoever thou thinkest of me, yet as it stands me in hand, so do I make conscience of my word, for I stand in the presence of God, and therefore know it, as the Lord liveth there shall be no rain nor dew these three years. So Cornelius having an eye to GodŐs providence, doth move himself and all his household to a solemn hearing of the Word of God delivered by the mouth of Peter, saying that they were all present before God, to hear all things commanded of Him (Acts 10:33). As these men had regard to GodŐs providence, so we likewise must behave ourselves reverently, making conscience of our behaviour both in words and works; because wheresoever we be, we are in the presence of God.

 

(2) Secondly, if there be a providence of God over everything, then we must learn contentment of mind in every estate; yea, in adversity under the cross when all goes against us we must be content, because GodŐs providence hath so appointed. So David in the greatest of his griefs was dumb and spake nothing (Psa. 39:9), because thou Lord didst it. And when Shimei cursed David (2 Sam. 16:10), Abishai would have had the king to have given him leave to have slain him; but David would not suffer it, but said, He curseth even because the Lord hath bidden him, Curse David; who dare then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? In whose example we may see a pattern of quietness of mind. When a cross cometh, it is a hard thing to be patient; but we must draw ourselves thereunto by consideration of GodŐs especial providence.

 

(3) Thirdly, when outward means of preservation in this life do abound, as health, honour, riches, peace and pleasure, then we must remember to be thankful; because these things always come by the providence of God. Thus Job was thankful both in prosperity and adversity (Job 1:21), The Lord, saith he, gave, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Indeed to be patient in every estate and thankful to God is a very hard matter; yet will it be more easy if we learn in all things that befall us in this life, never to sever the consideration of the things that come to pass from GodŐs providence. For as the body and soul of man (though we see only the body) are always together as long as man liveth; so is GodŐs providence joined with the thing done; so we must also in it, labour to see and acknowledge the good pleasure and appointment of God. As for example, a manŐs house is set on fire, and all his goods consumed; this very sight would make him at his wits end; but now as he beholds this event with one eye, so with the other eye he must at that very instant look upon GodŐs blessed providence. When a man beholds and feels the loss of his friends, he cannot but grieve thereat, unless he be more senseless than stock or stone; yet that he may not be overwhelmed with grief, he must ever with one eye look at the pleasure of God herein. This will be an especial means to stay the rage of any headstrong affection in all our afflictions. In the world, the manner of men is, if health, wealth and ease abound, to think all is well; but if crosses come, as loss of friends, and loss of goods, then men cry out, as being straught of their wits. The reason is because they look only at the outward means, and tie GodŐs providence to them; not being able to see any goodness or providence of God out of ordinary means. Again, when a man is stored with riches, honour, wealth and prosperity, he must not barely look on them, but behold withal GodŐs goodness and blessing in them; for if that be wanting, all the riches in the world are nothing. Likewise in receiving thy meat and drink, thou must look further into the blessing of God upon it; which if it be away, thy meat and thy drink can no more nourish thee than the stone in the wall. And the same must we do in every business of our callings; which if men would learn to practise, they would not so much trust to the means, as honour, wealth, favour etc., but rather to God Himself. The Lord by the prophet Habakkuk (Hab. 1:16), reproves the Chaldeans for offering sacrifice unto their nets; which sin they committed because they looked only upon outward things; and like moles had no power to see further into them, and to behold the work of God in all their proceedings. And this is the very cause why we are unthankful for GodŐs benefits; for though we behold the bare creatures, yet are we so blind, that we cannot discern any blessing and providence of God in them. Therefore let us learn to look upon both jointly together, and so shall we be thankful unto God in prosperity, and patient in adversity with Job and David. This lesson Paul learned (Phil. 4:12,13); I can be abased (saith he) and I can abound; everywhere in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry; and to abound and to be in want.

 

(4) Fourthly, seeing GodŐs providence disposeth all things, we are taught to gather observations of the same in things both past and present, that we may learn thereby to be armed against the time to come. Thus David, when he was to encounter with Goliath, gathered hope and confidence to himself for the time to come, by the observation of GodŐs providence in the time past; for, saith he (1 Sam. 17:36,37), When I kept my fatherŐs sheep, I slew a lion and a bear that devoured the flock. Now the Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and our of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

 

(5) Fifthly, because GodŐs providence disposeth all things, when we make lawful promises to do anything, we must put in, or at the least conceive this condition: Of the LordŐs will. For St James saith that we ought to say (Jam. 4:15), If the Lord will, and if we live, we will do this or that. This also was DavidŐs practice; for to all the congregation of Israel he said (1 Chr. 13:2), If it seem good to you, and if it proceed from the Lord our God, we will send to and fro, etc.

 

(6) Sixthly, seeing GodŐs providence is manifest in ordinary means, it beholdeth every man in his calling to use them carefully. And when ordinary means be at hand, we must not look for any help without them, though the Lord be able to do what He will without means. Joab, when many Aramites came against him, he heartened his soldiers though they were but few in number, bidding them (2 Sam. 10:12), Be strong and valiant for their people, and for the cities of their God, and then let the Lord do that which is good in His eyes. And our Saviour Christ avoucheth it to be flat tempting of God for Him to leap down from the pinnacle of the temple to the ground (Matt. 4:6,7), whereas there was an ordinary way at hand to descend by stairs. Hence it appears that such persons as will use no means whereby they may come to repent and believe, do indeed no more repent and believe than they can be able to live which neither eat nor drink.

 

 

And thus much of the duties. Now follow the consolations. First, this very point of GodŐs special providence is a great comfort to GodŐs church; for the Lord moderateth the rage of the devil and wicked men that they shall not hurt the people of God. David saith (Psa. 16:8), The Lord is at my right hand, therefore I shall not slide. And, when JosephŐs brethren were afraid because they had sold him into Egypt, he comforteth them saying (Gen. 45:7) that it was God that sent him before them for their preservation. So king David, when his soldiers were purposed to stone him to death, he was in great sorrow; but it is said (1 Sam. 30:6), He comforted himself in the Lord his God. Where we may see that a man which hath grace to believe in God and rely on His providence in all his afflictions and extremities, shall have wonderful peace and consolation.